Uber Is Testing New Fees For Tardy Passengers

Filed Under: Uber

I use Uber on a near daily basis, and if I had one complaint about their UberX service (at least in LA), it’s that I wish they’d charge more. I know that sounds backwards, but when I’m paying only a third of what a taxi costs, I feel like I can only have really low expectations of safety, comfort, and the condition of the car (the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind).

So I’m all for Uber doing things which improve the bottom line for their drivers, so that it avoids silly things like them soliciting cash tips, which they’ll soon be allowed to do.

Uber has generally been a pretty anti-fee company, but they’re testing a new program which potentially adds fees for tardy passengers.

According to TechCrunch, the new program is being tested in New York City, New Jersey, Phoenix, and Dallas, so that Uber can evaluate the results and decide whether to expand it further.

Under Uber’s current system, riders have five minutes after requesting their rides to cancel them, without incurring any fees.

Here are the changes that Uber is testing:

  • Charging cancellation fees two minutes after ordering, rather than five minutes after ordering
  • If the driver has to wait for more than two minutes, they can start charging the per minute waiting fee; if the passenger cancels 2-5 minutes after ordering the Uber they’ll only be charged the per minute cost for them waiting, while if they cancel after five minutes they’ll be charged the full cancellation fee

I actually think the new cancellation policy is very reasonable. It’s not fair to an Uber driver when they’re driving towards you for almost five minutes, and then you change your mind. You should know within two minutes of ordering whether you want to take an Uber or not.

Uber charging fees after waiting for two minutes is a slippery slope, given how terrible the Uber app’s time estimates are. In other words, if the app time estimate says the driver will be there in 10 minutes and then they end up being there in five minutes, is it fair that they start charging at seven minutes? While I think there are logistical issues with this, the concept still makes sense to me, as so many people are disrespectful of Uber drivers’ time. Whether or not this is the exact solution remains to be seen.

Either way, we’re not talking about big money here. For example, in LA the per minute waiting cost is 15 cents. So if you make them wait for five minutes, that will cost you 75 cents.


Bottom line

Up until now Uber has been extremely consumer friendly, almost to a fault. I’m curious to see how this market test ends up doing, and if they expand it.

What do you think of these proposed Uber fee additions?

(Tip of the hat to Travel Codex)

  1. I’m not so sure I agree with the 2 minute cancellation window. Uber drivers always have problems finding my apartment building (I live on a one way street where one of the cross streets is closed to non-bus or municipal traffic). Compounding issues is that if Uber drivers miss the turn or the cut through street that isn’t on Google Maps, they have to go all the way around a very large office park, which with traffic can take over 10 minutes. It’s often faster to cancel the lost Uber and order a new one, and there are plenty of times when I have done that more than 2 minutes after ordering but less than 5. I don’t really feel too bad about it because I live in such a densely populated area that Uber drivers shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone else (and possibly someone closer to them once they are lost) if I cancel.

  2. This is retarded. Do you know how often I request Uber and the app tells me the driver has arrived when he’s actually 2 blocks away in an alley somewhere? Finding the car in itself will eat up 2 minutes. If the driver doesn’t speak English? Forget about it.

    I can understand the problem this is trying to address but this is going to piss off some punctual people. I guarantee it.

  3. Charge me when I am late. Discount my fare when you are late/lost. Uber has the worst GPS on the planet.

  4. how about the fact that the estimate before ordering always says something like 5 minutes, and then it takes the driver 15 minutes to get to where I am? Sometimes when I see the real estimate, I cancel the ride, and try to find a taxi. And I don’t feel bad about it — that’s what Uber gets for lying.
    I am actually angry at myself for how much I end up using Uber, because it’s just so convenient…

  5. Two minute cancellation is ridiculous to me. So many times drivers get lost or don’t move for two minutes because they accepted my ride from inside their house instead of their car.

  6. One more reason to keep cutting back on uber. I have been so good — I haven’t used uber for almost two weeks, and I am losing weight by walking more. Screw uber.

  7. What happens when you request an Uber and the driver doesn’t actually start moving towards you, or you request and it says 5 minutes and 3 minutes later is now saying 8 minutes because they went the wrong way? I think the new cancellation policy will be a negative.

  8. If you are peeved that you waited 10 minutes for a pickup versus the 2-3 minutes you assumed, maybe stick to driving yourself. Be thankful we even have an alternative to taxis and think before canceling a ride because the wait is a little longer than expected. That’s just such pissy behavior.

  9. Uber divers around LAX have been notoriously bad about not moving after having accepted the ride. I have had a driver just start going further away waiting for me to cancel last week. Uber needs to weed out the bad eggs much better before they hit the customer with this change

  10. Asinine idea UBER …. in SF , I cancel drivers 50% of the time …. for legitimate reasons ….

    1. I find that sometimes when you have surge pricing , when you cancel you have a chance the surge pricing goes down, CANCEL…. or goes up…. about 40% of the time it has dropped.

    2. Drivers come to SF from outside the city and have no idea where they are going to find you and take 10 min to then drive right past you or get lost trying to find an address even when texting them my exact location aka AT THE CHASE BANK 1003 POLKS STREET or actually calling them…. CANCEL

    3. the worst lie UBER throws at customers The initial opening of the app shows 12 cars within a block of me , then when I press REQUEST , the car then is 15 blocks away. CANCEL the ride every time UBER bullshits me. For example 23 UBERS at ATT park today ( 1-2 blocks away ) @ 3:35 when I open the app. I request a ride , they send me a driver 15 min way in Union Sq ? Why show me ghost cars ?

    4. During events and in SF , 75% of the time the app says a driver will be here in 3-4 min , then the real wait begins , 7 -9 or 10 min later the driver shows up , so do I then get a credit for a driver who gets lost or drives the wrong way? CANCEL and take a CAB …. ( flywheel.com )

    5. Numerous time I am told a driver will be here in 7 min , to then wait 5 min then have the time jump to 10 or 12 min…..

    6. UBER there are choices ……. we know this ….

  11. Even the current policy is not a hard policy because I’ve cancelled several times after 5 minutes when it’s obvious the driver hasn’t moved or is going to take 20 minutes to arrive when it originally said 5 and never been charged. If you cancel and have a good reason, even after the cancellation window, report it and Uber will delete the charge.

  12. I don’t get it – isn’t there a solution to UberX charging too little – take a regular taxi or order an UberBLACK.

  13. If the GPS in the Uber app actually worked I would be fine with it. But since at best it puts me 2 blocks away from where I am (the worst was 14 blocks away and the driver made me walk there, but w/e) I don’t think I should be punished for their faulty program.

  14. I’ve had estimates of a 4 minute arrival actually take 30 minutes. In situations like that I should be able to cancel 20 minutes in without penalty.

  15. So I recently started driving for Lyft to pay for all those cheap airfares I have been buying lately. I have to say that cancellations are probably the worst part of doing ridesharing, especially if traffic is bad. I takes a hell of a lot of work to get to a pick up in traffic only to have them cancel on you after you have finally made it past the horrible traffic intersection.

    The apps of Lyft and Uber are never going to be totally accurate on time. It bases the GPS location of you and a driver, but what if the driver is actually driving in the opposite direction from you. Many times I have to go up multiple blocks, just to come back to the pickup point due to oneway streets.

    So this is not me, but I have some Uber friends that wait for a few minutes to just make sure they don’t get canceled on. So all you folks cancelling all the time have trained Uber drivers to do this.

    @chasgoose so you punish drivers because you live in a complicated area to get to, especially if you don’t know that particular street.

    @ALI SONG you know before you request a driver there is surge pricing. Just don’t request until surge goes down. By requesting a driver while surge is happening is just adding more time to the surge period.

    As to the Uber GPS, I have heard that is sucks and pretty much agree with you all on that. Luckily Lyft is partnered with Waze.

    By the way. Lyft starts charging you once we arrive.

  16. As a seasoned Uber driver, I confirm the navigation app sucks. We have to check with the rider immediately to see exactly where they are, which is very inconvenient but necessary. We also have to check once they are in the car to make sure of the destination. All this for a few measly dollars across town (due to lowered rates.) Not to mention we clean our cars out every day, offer bottled water and chit chat about their day so far, but cannot ask for a tip without being condemned, Uber has put us in this spot and we are resentful…waiting five minutes is the least of our problems.

  17. Yeah this is ridiculous and good way to keep me off of Uber. I cannot mention how many times I have had an Uber driver cancel on me to then only try to re-request and now surge pricing is in place. I’ve seen some Uber drivers with 2-3 phones up and running so they can see this. If they want to lower the amount to cancel then once they accept a job they should also not be allowed to cancel. Of course it only seems to happen when I am in a rush or standing in the rain and need to get somewhere.

    It’s gotten so bad I have even started doing screen shots on my iPhone as soon as they accept the ride. Another thing that annoys me is that they sometimes will start the meter even before I have reached the car. As soon as it says on route. I also think that is another criminal way the Uber drivers try to squeeze me.

    When Uber started in amsterdam the Uber pop was almost 70% cheaper then a normal taxi. Once they moved to UberX it is only 20-30% cheaper… And sorry to all the Uber drivers out there but if your not making money go do another job, don’t try to steal from your customers!!

  18. Agreed with many of the comments.

    First, Uber says the car is three minutes away. So I request the ride and suddenly the car is 7 minutes away. Now, 7 minutes during rush hour may not be unreasonable – but it is when it’s more than double the amount of time you told me to expect to wait.

    Second, to make a long story short, often the driver stops near my address (in Midtown NYC) vs. where I asked, because it’s easier for them to wait somewhere else. So it takes me a few minutes to get to the Uber. Does that mean I am late?

    There’s Lfyt, there’s yellow cabs, there’s car services. Uber keeps giving us all more and more reasons to stop using them.

    Good luck with that.

  19. @Susan Cohn – It’s funny you mention chit chat as something you have to do. I wish I didn’t have to chat with the driver to get a 5. Sometimes I just want a moment of silence, between all the noise and insanity of meetings or travel – to clear my head before the next meeting, or the client dinner. But I sit there and gab gab gab with the driver so I don’t insult her or him, to get my 5.

    Some will say, I just let them politely know you don’t want to talk. I’ve tried. Last time I did that, I got a 3. (Now can tell from the new ratings system.)

    Uber needs to remember it’s about the passenger, not about the driver. I’m paying you, I shouldn’t also have to entertain the driver. Unless the driver wants to tip me for the conversation.

  20. I recently had a case where a driver accepted my request with a stated time of 5 minutes. After five minutes, he hadn’t moved according to the app. I sent him a text asking if he was coming and had no response in two more minutes. Finally, I just cancelled the ride. This is not the first time I have seen this behavior and I wonder what is going on. An earlier poster talked about people having multiple phones and waiting for surges and I wonder if that behavior is becoming more systemic. In my case, I was charged the 5 dollar cancellation fee but Uber credited me after I wrote back to complain.

  21. After 6 days of great uber experiences in Mexico City, the last experience on the way to the airport completely ruined my view of uber and I’ll be transitioning to lyft here on out. Essentially, I requested an uber, waited 10 minutes, then that uber cancelled on me. When I went to request a new one, surge pricing was at 1.5X normal rates, but I still requested another uber. That one proceeded to cancel on me too, and then I requested another uber, and it was 3.0x surge rates. I agreed to that as well as I needed to get to the airport, but clearly the drivers were canceling on me because they wanted a higher surge rate.

    I sent an email to uber just detailing this experience and asking them to at least correct the pricing to the 1.5x surge rate price & they said they couldn’t refund me any money, but could offer me 100 peso uber credit, or about $5.50. Two years ago, they would’ve refunded me and apologized – what happened in the last two years? It’s a damn shame because they used to be a shining example of a good product and great customer service – now neither of those things can really be said, probably because of greed.

  22. Have you used Uber in NYC? Many drivers can’t or “won’t” find you. Rather, they get within a block or two and send you a text to find them!?! Uber plans to charge me for that service. Lyft here I come.

  23. Uber support has a full log of exactly what happened (when you request, when accepted, route the driver took, etc). If you cancelled for many of the reasons listed above that clearly make it the driver’s fault, and then email them if you get charged, they are *really* biased towards customer satisfaction, and will easily refund your fee within a few hours. I’ve never failed to get satisfaction this way.

    Now, if you’re gaming the system by requesting then gambling on surge falling, or hoping for a sooner arrival, I’m happy they’ll be charging you more now. Seriously. You ruin it for people like me who use the provided service.

  24. Like others have said, is crap for the passenger to be charged a late fee when the driver picks up down the block. The app allows the passenger to enter a specific address, so as is, it sucks to have to trudge down the road to get into the car because it wasn’t convenient for the driver. Note: I’ve been on crutches for a few weeks and it’s happened a few times. I contacted Uber, and they were sympathetic and credited me, I still see this being problematic with a shorter wait time when it’s the driver’s fault.

  25. On top of that, I’ve had Uber drivers show up nowhere near where I requested them, making it take well over 2 minutes for me to get to the car once they “arrive.” 5 minutes I can maybe see, but 2 minutes is ridiculous.

  26. Im sorry to be so blunt, but nobody is making sense here. The truth is, every driver should “CALL” the passenger once they are arrive. This lets the passenger know they should start walking outside, and gives them enough time to do so. I do agree with the change, because in my case as a driver, I call all of my passengers when I arrive, so there is no excuse to be late. If the passenger takes over 2 minutes to go outside after we have spoken and established that I am physically there, then they should be penalized. Apparently those drivers you guys are talking about dont know how to perform their job correctly. Neither the drivers or the passengers should depend on the application for time estimates. There should be good verbal communication between driver and passenger from the initial request. If there are issues with drivers nit speaking English, then Uber should use bilingual only drivers, depending the location of the city. Stop complaining so much. Its already enough that Uber prices are so low, while the drivers do everything with higher standards than Taxis.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *